Review – The Flash Annual #3: Sanctuary Hits Home

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Flash Annual #2
The Flash Annual #2 cover, via DC Comics.

The Flash Annual #2 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Scott Kolins, Artist; Luis Guerrero, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 9.5/10

Corrina: The Truth About Wally

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW

Ray: Perfectly combining the cosmic with the painfully human and tying in dangling plot threads from Williamson’s entire run, The Flash Annual #2 may be one of the best issues of the title since Rebirth. The issue opens with Bart Allen returning from the Speed Force to look for his friends and family, especially his mentor Wally West – at the same time Barry’s discovered Wally’s body at Sanctuary. Barry’s grief and disbelief immediately send him to the place both he and Wally have been multiple times – the Speed Force, desperately searching for evidence that his former sidekick isn’t actually dead. But it’s not Wally he finds there – it’s Godspeed, last seen redeeming himself in the Gorilla Grodd attack. But August Heart’s path to redemption seems to be a thing of the past – he’s talking like a cultist, obsessed with saving the future from an unknown enemy. And that quest sends him to Iron Heights, where several of Barry’s former allies are gathering like sitting ducks.

It’s great to see Avery Ho again, and to see Wallace West outside of a book that isn’t the dreadful Teen Titans. They’re there to visit Meena, aka the Negative Flash – and three Speedsters in one place is exactly what Godspeed is searching for. Although Barry is able to show up and fight off Godspeed, it’s not before he manages to tag all the Speedsters present with a mysterious probe that seems to have no real effect – and to reveal Wally’s death to everyone present, including Wallace. Although Godspeed briefly expresses sympathy to Barry, he’s still managed to blow up his life and deepen the rift between him and Wallace.

But the real meat of the issue is in the final segment, when Barry has to return home and break the news to Iris, and it’s one of the best, rawest depictions of grief I’ve ever seen in comics. It blows any similar scene in Heroes in Crisis out of the water. Stingers about Bart and about who Godspeed is working for – 90’s fans will recognize that energy – are great, and the whole package comes together into a truly spectacular thrill ride.

Flash Annual #2
Impulse on the run. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: This is truly a collection of Flashes, the good–Barry, Avery, Wallace, Bart; the bad-Godspeed and his handler; and the ugly, relating to the death of Wally. Meena’s the wild card here, still sorting out what happened to her and what she’ll do in the future.

Unfortunately, that group of Flashes reminded me that while Barry has been all over the world searching for the other Forces, he’s sort of forgotten about the other Flashes. Wallace and Avery seem more worried about Meena, for instance, than Barry ever had. And, of course, Barry has to confess he didn’t tell Wallace about Wally.

Barry’s breaking the news to Iris is rough, of course, though I thought perhaps she was written as blaming Barry too much, even if she didn’t mean it.

I also wondered why Impulse didn’t spot all the other Flashes. He finds Godspeed but not anyone else? That seemed plot-driven, to allow yet more time to pass before Impulse also finds out about Wally. However, the artwork in Impulse’s segments is terrific, full of the kinetic energy that’s always been part of Bart Allen.

Overall, I enjoyed the issue but it has the core problem I’ve found in much of this run: Barry hasn’t become a compelling lead character to me.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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